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The Polar Express (2004)

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A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.



(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2,339 ( 163)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hero Girl (voice)
Brendan King ...
Andy Pellick ...
Josh Eli ...
Mark Mendonca ...
Rolandas Hendricks ...
Mark Goodman ...
Jon Scott ...
Sean Scott ...


This is the story of a young hero boy on Christmas Eve who boards on a powerful magical train that's headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home. What unfolds is an an adventure which follows a doubting boy, who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole; during this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


All Aboard In IMAX 3D this holiday See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 November 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience  »

Box Office


$165,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$23,323,463 (USA) (12 November 2004)


$665,426 (USA) (28 December 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| | |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Robert Zemeckis: [keyhole] The Hero Boy looks through a keyhole early in the movie. See more »


Throughout the movie, the number of cars on the train changes, from just three, to as many as eleven plus. This is most obvious when the hobo and Boy are skiing on the roofs of the cars, and when they are on the ice tack. See more »


[first lines]
Hero Boy: On Christmas Eve many years ago I laid quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets, I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound I was afraid I'd never hear: the sound of Santa's sleigh bells.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the very end, it reads "In Dedication to Michael Jeter" with a picture. See more »


Referenced in The Sugarcube Critic: The Ticket Master (2014) See more »


Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
Written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
Performed by Frank Sinatra
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

wonderful holiday film
18 December 2004 | by (Columbus, OH) – See all my reviews

So it was with much trepidation and even utter fear in my heart that I went to see this movie. After all, the last time I went to see a full-length adaptation of a favorite Christmas story, what I got was Ron Howard's absolutely God-awful "The Grinch". Having grown up with the book "The Polar Express" (according to my mom, I cited it as my favorite Christmas present when I was seven), I did not want to see this story bastardized in any way. Honestly, I was prepared for "Polar Express" to be a complete wreck. But instead…

It soared. Completely. What makes the film such a success is not so much even the story itself, but an execution which somehow manages to inject every frame of the film with a feeling of childlike wonder and exuberance. In addition, there are so many clever touches and details added throughout that a feeling of mystery and excitement just fills the viewer. Among these are the waiters dancing and singing while serving hot chocolate to the kids on the train (a very funny scene, as well), the factory where the presents are prepared, and a ghost-like hobo who is never really explained, but is incredibly crucial to the feel of the film. At one point, three of the children wander lost through the empty streets of Santa's North Pole town. As they wander, various old Christmas recordings are heard playing on phonographs throughout the town. The music provides a pleasant and nostalgic ambiance to the scene. It's touches like this that absolutely make the film.

I'll never understand why films seem to be required to be at least 90 minutes long. I would pay money to see a 40-minute film, as long as it were good. And even if it sucked, I would have at least wasted less time. What I'm getting at is I have no idea why a 32-page picture book needed to be a 99-minute movie. What this means is that the original story is VASTLY expanded upon. However, what is added in actually fits quite well with the essence and spirit of the book. Some of it is just sheer entertainment; the train track is like a roller coaster, characters ski on top of the cars, danger lurks around every step of the journey to the North Pole (but admittedly fun danger). Other aspects further illuminate and expand upon the book's basic theme of the virtue of belief in the implausible. So I have no idea why this was made into a full-length, but in the end, I'm glad it was. It didn't even feel too long (and I think everything is too long).

Much criticism has fallen on the look of the characters in the movie. I can agree to a point. While there is incredible visual detail in the faces, they usually seem void of expression. In general, a lot of the motion seems rather wooden, as well. The scenery, on the other hand, is gorgeous. Overall, the minor problems in animation (which really boil down to a matter of taste anyway) are certainly not enough to diminish what is an overwhelmingly successful movie. Score: 8/10

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